Throwback Thursday: Never Leave for a Passage on Thursday the 12th

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

It finally happened that our time in Miami was finished and we were ready to cross an ocean.  The boat had all of it’s needs addressed, we had provisioned, and the weather forecast had started to slide back into it’s normal patterns.  Our 7 day outlook was looking pretty good and there were no more excuses to keep ourselves stateside.

Hindsight is always 20/20 though, and if we knew then what we knew now….we probably would have hung tight in our spectacular little anchorage in Miami Beach.  We could have enjoyed a few more episodes of Sherlock on our hard drive, stocked up a little more at Publix, and just enjoyed sitting still.  But at the time we knew that any excuse to stay another day could turn into another week or two and we were ready to take any opening we could get.

And we learned…why you should never leave for a passage on Thursday the 12th.

You can find the original post here.

Thursday June 12, 2014

6.12.14 (1)

They say that you should never leave on passage on a Friday. Sailor’s supersition that it’s bad luck. We were almost caught leaving for our Atlantic crossing on Friday the 13th. Does that make it doubly worse? Or do the two negatives cancel each other out and make a positive? I wasn’t sure and made SURE that we busted our butts so that we wouldn’t have to find out, leaving one day earlier on Thursday the 12th instead. I think we would have been better off taking our chances with Friday the 13th

The morning should have started with relaxing, enjoying our last cup of coffee for the next month where we didn’t have to hold everything down on the counter to make sure it didn’t slide off, before completing last minute projects like stowing everything away and deflating the dinghy. It did not start like that. Just as we were going to bed last night we realized that the fitting on our bow water tank had broken, leaking all of it’s contents into our bilge. Since this was to be our back-up source of water for our crossing, only taking from and refilling our port water tank, this was an issue we needed to fix right away.

The new goal was to wake up first thing in the morning and walk to the local Ace Hardware to pick up the replacement part. Knowing that we were already going to get very little sleep as it was, since we had stayed up well past midnight since we had pushed off all that evening’s projects to enjoy a hot pizza and an episode of Sherlock, I was vexed, and truthfully, terrified, at the thunderstorm of epic proportions that rolled through our anchorage at 5 am, bringing with it 50 knot winds and leaving me wondering if something similar could roll through the next night while we were on passage. Letting ourselves sleep in just a little bit longer we ended up with a late start to our morning, but we were back to the boat with the issue fixed by 11 am. The other small projects took a little longer than we anticipated, as they always do, and the anchor wasn’t weighed until 1 pm. Spending another 45 minutes circling the anchorage as we calibrated our autopilot we were finally off, exiting the Government Cut at Miami just after 3 pm.

Even though the sun was shinning down on us on our way out it didn’t take long for the clouds to roll in, and we watched Miami become consumed by darkness and rain which we were soon swallowed up by as well. It wasn’t anything more than a nice rain shower though, and winds continued to stay around 10 knots and we glided up the Gulf Stream in glass waters at 5 knots under headsail alone. Based on sheer excitement about the journey ahead of us, we even frolicked out in the rain for a bit (or Matt doing whatever the manly term for that would be) while taking in a free shower during the downpour. Things cleared up a few hours later as we passed Ft. Lauderdale and we even managed to catch a decent sunset while enjoying left over pizza in the cockpit.

6.12.14 (2)

6.12.14 (3)

6.12.14 (4)

Before I even knew it my eight o’clock bedtime was before me and I was more than ready for it. I’ve learned that the key to a good first night on passage for myself is collecting no sleep the night before we leave so I am more than ready to conk out at such an early hour. Sliding in behind the lee cloth that we’d set up on the starboard bunk in the salon, I slid easily into sleep. Something that normally takes me three hours to do our first night out.

I had been lying in my bunk for just over an hour when I heard a loud ruckus on deck. I knew it was Matt messing with the headsail, and even though all sounds are amplified below deck, this seemed much louder and as if something were wrong. Jumping out of bed I raced over the companionway boards and into the cockpit. It was immediately evident to me that we were in trouble. I looked at the chartplotter to find winds nearing 60 knots and we were being pushed so far over that our rail was in the water. Matt was feverently working to get the headsail rolled in, but had enough good sense to yell at me to get back in the boat and get a harness on before I could topple out the boat and into the Gulf Stream.

Rushing back below deck I tore through the cabinet to search for our second harness. Usually we never have both out at the same time unless we know bad weather is coming, normally just trading off the one harness between ourselves, but this storm came upon us so suddenly that we barely had time to react.

Finding the second harness I raced once more into the companionway where the headsail was still being overpowered by winds that were now sustained in the upper 40’s. With the furling sheet in hand, Matt was still trying to save the sail by bringing it in, asking me to gently release the sheet for the headsail still wrapped around the winch. The strain on the line was so heavy that I couldn’t even loosen it from the teeth that hold it in place, all the while trying my best to work it free while we’re still heeled all the way over in Force 9-10 winds. Finally Matt realized this was not going to work and it was very likely we’d tear the sail in half while working to winch it in. Looking up through the dark and thinking that we’d already blown it out he slid over to my spot he released the sheet from the winch and let it flap in the wind while he quickly grabbed the furling sheet back to get it in. Eventually the sail was rolled in, though the lines were a knotted and tangled mess that would have to be saved for another day.

Now at hand we had to deal with winds that were still blowing in the 45-50 knot range and showed no signs of relenting. Not wanting to keep any of the sails up we turned ourselves downwind and began to ride the storm out with bare poles as we were pushed along at two knots of speed.  The winds were coming directly out of the north which meant that we were now moving south, working against the current of the Gulf Stream, had absolutely no sail up, no engine on, and were still making that kind of forward progress.  Bolts of white and pink lightning were crashing down on each side of us as buckets of rain began to pour down.  The whole experience was miserable and I think both of us began to start rethinking this whole ocean crossing.  As I stood behind the wheel to hand steer us, Matt sat clipped in under the dodger and confessed, “This just isn’t for me.  I can’t do this anymore.”  Can’t do an ocean crossing?  Or can’t do cruising?

Seeing that we were only 12 miles north of Ft. Lauderdale we tried to start setting a course there to ease our nerves and see what steps we wanted to take next.  As I tried to keep us ass to the waves, I was going just by feel for the wind direction and slipped up a few times where we took the building waves on at a bad angle and they’d crash over the stern and into the cockpit, soaking me in the process.  Yes, a break from cruising sounds pretty good right now.  Immediately my mind went to us leaving the boat in Ft. Lauderdale while we hopped a plane to Guatemala to backpack for a few weeks while visiting friends, and then returning to Michigan for the rest of summer to spend it with friends and family.  It all sounded so tantalizing that it was probably one of the only things keeping me from breaking down while we continued to fight this monstrous storm which was showing no signs of letting up.

For another hour I stood behind the wheel, knees growing weak and teeth chattering until the winds finally let up into the mid 30’s and the autopilot was able to go back into use.  Somehow I was still wired even though I’d only gathered about 5 hours of sleep in the last 30 hours, and sent Matt to bed while we pushed on toward Ft. Lauderdale with the engine on, still fighting the Gulf Stream and moving at 2 knots.  Two hours later, while he was resting his nerves and gaining a little perspective while I stood awake and continued to daydream of a life back on land, he came to relieve me and discuss our rash decision.  By this point I was beyond exhausted and finally started to break down.

I complained about how it seems like everything for the past six months has been working against us and maybe this is a sign that we should stop before something really awful happened.  He told me to grab a few hours of sleep, but for him, removing himself from the situation for a little bit made him realize that it was just frazzled nerves that made him want to quit before, but he thought that moving forward and continuing our crossing was still the right decision and what we really do want.  He made the comment that it was extremely unlikely that we’d go through anything like that again and the worst of it was probably out of the way.  We might hit the random storm here or there in the future, but none of it would likely be worse that what we’ve already seen in our cruising history.  Hmmm.  Guatemala, Lake Michigan, friends, family…….or 3,000 miles of open ocean and uncertainty ahead.  I think a few hours of sleep might be necessary to make that decision.

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Installing Our New Plexiglass Deadlights

It’s finally come, the moment you’ve all been waiting for!  Or wait, maybe it’s the moment we’ve been waiting for.  Although I’m sure you were a bit curious as well.  Either way, we’ve started installing the deadlights to Daze Off!

After all the weeks we had prepping for this, it’aces funny to think that the end step only takes one day. (For each set of windows installed, we’re doing it in 3 stages.)  All in all, the prep and application of the windows took 2 days.  The first may have been the hardest as it was dedicated to the placement of where they would be.  Since we don’t have a recessed area that they’ll slip into (as we did on Serendipity), it’s up to us to find out where they need to be so they’re level and perfectly spaced out from each other.

Before we had taken the old windows out we had at least been smart enough to measure the distance down from the top of the pilothouse to the top edge of the window and wrote that information on a notepad in our tablet so we couldn’t lose it (we lose things easily around here).  Since the new windows were traced and cut from the old ones, that distance should stay the same.  Measuring the length of the window, we placed a piece of tape where the bottom edge of each window would be and used Command strips to stick a flexible board to that spot on the boat so the windows could safely rest on it until they were installed.

Matt measuring windows

With lots of tape and work with our calipers, we double and triple checked that our new line (& the board) were level and from that point, that the distance width wide from one window to the next was the same.  Multiple times we would placed the new (but still covered in a protective paper) windows in their intended places, and then ran down next to the boat to see how it all looked visually.  Did anything seem odd about how they were placed?  Was there any sloping from one side to the next?  Did they appear to be spaced properly?

spacing new windows

Looking at placement of new deadlights

When we were 100% sure we knew where we wanted them, we did a small tape outline on each side, so in case they slid we could accurately place them back where we knew the measurements were correct.  In writing it sounds quite easy, but take my word, in reality we worked on this for a few hours.  Our board did not want to stay up initially, the tape we based it’s placement on made for a sloping line, and even when our level said it was correct, visually it just seemed off.  As our first attempt at it, this part was incredibly frustrating and time consuming, and after a few hours of it I was ready to throw up my arms and yell, “No one is going to notice if it is 1/4″ off from the front window to the back!”.  But we kept at it until we had it right.

So I was quite relieved when that process was done, and we moved onto the next step of drilling the holes.  Instead of trying to do it through the plexiglass and metal at the same time, we drilled the holes in the windows first before replacing them into their spots on the board and then drilled through the metal as well.  Placing the bolts in each corner and securing them to what would eventually be their final spot, I went through and taped an outline of each window.  This will keep the mess low(er) when we adhere them with caulk, and it was another good way to know exactly where they should sit when we went to permanently place them.

The last step of the first prep day was to prep the part of the plexi which will adhere to the newly painted surface on the boat.  While the windows were securely in place with their bolts, I went inside and with a mechanical pencil, traced the outline of the frame.  Taking them out once more, I used an Exacto knife to cut the paper down the line I had traced, and removed the protective paper from the outside.  When this was done and the newly exposed plexiglass surface had been cleaned with denatured alcohol, Matt set them up and sprayed those exposed areas with a window frit, we used Krylon Fusion for Plastics.

This step is done for a few purposes, including creating a matte surface to visually hide the tape and caulk which will be applied below it, help the tape and caulk against UV attack, and also creating a better surface for adhesion.  We placed two coats on the plexi and then left them at least 24 hours to set.

Then for the fun part…the day of installation.  Wiping down the painted surface with denatured alcohol, we lined the edges with a very strong tape. For this tape we chose 3M VHB (very high bond) 4991.  Not only is this tape strong enough that it would be able to keep the new windows on without the added strength of caulk or bolts, but one of the things we bought this specific product for is because of it’s thickness of 2.3 mm.  This allows the caulk (which of course we’ll be using, for the added bond and protection against leaks), plenty of space to expand and contract beneath the plexi.

3M VHB 4991

When this double sided tape had been attached and pressed firmly into the surface of the boat, Matt caulked the area from the VHB to the painters tape with Dow 795. When the area was covered so thickly that you could barely make out any white paint beneath it, we lined up the plexiglass window with its tape outline, and while keeping the top of the window still a few inches away from the surface of the boat, placed the bottom bolts in the holes to make sure we had everything correctly lined up and they slid into their holes.  Once they slipped in and we were confident the placement was correct (it would be almost impossible to un-adhere it from the tape once the two came in contact), pressed the rest of the window into place and firmly pushed against it to make sure it made full and strong contact with the tape.

The last step to adhesion was to place the bolts in, and all of them, as well as their holes, received a good coating of Dow 795 before they were permanently slid into place.  While I held the bolt in place from the outside, Matt went inside the boat to attach and tighten the nuts to each bolt.  Usually by doing this, excess caulk would squeeze out from the plexi, but in the areas it looked like there may be gaps, Matt went back with the caulk gun and traced an extra line around those spots.  Using a small plastic mixing stick, he neatly traced around each window to give it a clean finish.

We did this for each window before it was time for clean up.  The second most time consuming step of the whole process. Removing the tape, we found that we weren’t always left with clean lines.  It was then my job to go through with mineral spirits and acetone to wipe up any Dow 795 that had strayed onto the paint.  I found that in cleaning up some of my messes, all I did was make more.  It was also testing my temper where I’d try to smooth out a line where maybe a 1″ section had a little pucker of caulk, and when I tried to smooth that area I’d create a pucker in another section. This happened so many times that it would take me about 45 minutes to ‘clean’ each window. It was a little maddening.

At the end though, it was all worth it.  We had new windows in and they looked perfect!  Taking off the remaining protective paper we took a good look at our new accomplishment.  It was so strange to not only have new windows in, but ones that were so clear.  When I was inside the boat it looked as if there was still nothing there separating me from the outside.  It’s so exciting to have this one side installed, and not only am I over the moon to be able to step back from boat and look at them, but I finally have a sense of closure that I’ve been needing for so long on this project.

I can’t let myself get too excited though….we still have to go through this process two more times.

new windows from the inside

deadlights installed

plexiglass deadlights

deadlights

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Throwback Thursday: A Letter to my Family

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

Our time in Miami while we were prepping ourselves for our Atlantic crossing was extending itself a little further into the future than we had wanted, but during that time we had plenty to keep us busy, including boat projects that kept piling up one after another.  As soon as we finished one of them we found at least one or two new ones that needed addressing.

When we did have a little free time on our hands while waiting for parts and other things to be shipped to us, we managed to catch a bus and make the two hour ride out to Key Biscayne to visit our good friends Ana Bianca and Alfredo that we became very close with during our time in Guatemala.  With both of them currently residing in Miami, there was no way we could pass up the chance to see them while we were all so close.

Then my little Freak Out post came back to haunt me.  It turns out we had never let our family in on the poor weather conditions at the time or that we were having hesitations about departing.  As far as they knew, we were still honky dory and about to head out into open waters.  They had their reservations about us going, and what parent wouldn’t be a little worried?  But to hear that we were freaking out as well?  And to find it out from a blog post?  Well, I had to send a little letter out to remedy that.

You can find the original post here.

Friday May 30, 2014

Matt & Jessica 2

 Don’t worry about us, we’re all smiles now.

(Photo courtesy of Lahowind)

 

Ha, what was I thinking posting something on the blog last week about having a major meltdown about our Atlantic crossing without sharing any of my hesitations with my parents first?  Here they are sitting at home, thinking everything is fine and we’ll still be leaving in just a few days time, and then BAM, they see something online with me basically running in circles yelling ‘Oh my god, We’re going to die!!’.  Yeah, not one of my smarter moves.

The good thing about getting that blog post up though was so any future ocean crossing cruisers know they’re not alone when that ‘Oh s%*t, what the hell are we doing?!’ moment comes up.  If you stop and think twice about your actions and if you’re doing the right thing, then you can know you’re not alone.

The other reason, and I think I knew this before I published it, is that by publishing it, it would help bring me a little perspective.  In all honesty, I know we’ll be ok, whatever we decide to do.  If it’s to wait for the perfect weather window and cross the Atlantic, try for that but find ourselves running down to Grenada instead, or deciding that the Atlantic just isn’t in the plans for us this year.  I needed to actually hear other people telling us that we’d be ok.  And the support and positive energy you’ve all sent our way has been amazing.   I feel a new vigor like we can actually handle this, and any nerves I had before have now given way to excitement.

With that being said though, it still doesn’t make up for freaking out my family like I did.  I’m sorry family.  Don’t worry about us.  We’ll be smart in our planning and always trust our gut.  And just to smooth out any wrinkles and ease any worry that my previous post might have caused, here’s a follow up on the subject.  A response I sent to my dad after getting a ‘Why didn’t you tell us what’s been going on?!’ email from him that will also let all of you know our most up to date plans:

 

Hi dad.  Sorry to freak the rest of the family out with my ‘Freaking out’ blog post.  I did want to contact you and mom about our most recent plans, but we’ve still been trying to figure out what they are.  Our departure date of June 1st is totally out the window now, so we’ll be around here a few more days.  (Don’t ever think I’d leave without letting you know!).  There’s actually a number of things keeping us here for about a week longer than expected.

  •   Georgie.  Nope, everything did not go according to plan there. Getting her into the EU seems like one of the hardest projects we’ll ever have to tackle. There was never specific information online about exactly what we needed (or maybe there was too much and I couldn’t make sense of it) and the vets we had talked to before seemed clueless about what was actually needed, only giving us small tidbits of information here and there, so that when we showed up at the USDA yesterday it turns out we did not have all the papers that were required.  Everything we found before (and what the vet in Fort Lauderdale told us) is that we just had to show up to the USDA with an up to date health certificate.  Which we got from the vet in Guatemala, and then added the record of Georgie’s rabies titer test.  It turns out that we needed to visit a certified vet one more time within 10 days of our departure for them to say that she’s healthy, has all of her shots, and THAT’S what we bring to the USDA.  So now we have another vet appt for Georgie on Monday, can drop the paperwork off to the USDA right after, and pick up the signed and notarized copy the next day.

 

  •   We’re missing a few shipments.  Last Thursday we ordered a lot of things from this online boating store, things that we needed in order to complete projects on the boat before we could leave, like caulk to make sure we fix whatever leaks we’ve been finding.  Ones that we’ve been able to semi-ignore in the past but shouldn’t for an ocean crossing.  We even paid extra for 2 day shipping so that we’d have it by the weekend and get right to work.  Well, that package hasn’t gotten to us yet and is now actually missing.  We put in a claim with the USPS, but we think we’ll just have to get reimbursed for the money of what was inside.  It looks like on Monday when we rent a car to take Georgie to the vet we’ll also have to swing by West Marine and buy all the stuff that was in the box just so we have it in our hands.  Then, we need about 3-4  rain-free days to complete those projects.

 

  •  The weather.  That was what my worry in the freak-out blog post was mostly about.  Not so much the two other boats that were lost and thinking for sure it would happen to us.  As everyone is telling me, hundreds of boats successfully make the crossing each season, it’s just the ones with problems that make the news.  One of the boats that was abandoned actually had issues last summer and lost their rudder, the same exact boat that made us go through and put an emergency rudder in after hearing what happened to them.  I won’t go too far into it, but it may be questionable if that boat was sound enough to handle that kind of crossing.

So..more with the weather…this past winter seems to have screwed up global weather patterns and things seem to be settling in later than normal.  The kind of weather we’re seeing out there right now is typical in that area for March or April, but not for late May.  We’d never leave unless we were 100% confident about ourselves and the passage, which is also part of what that post was about.  A prelude in case we end up in Panama or the Eastern Carribean.  Not too likely, but we need to have backup plans and I thought I’d introduce the possibility of them now so no one is thrown a curve ball in case we one day show up a few thousand miles from where we originally thought we’d be.  ‘Hey, guess what we just decided today on a whim….we’re going to Panama!!’.

Something I’ve been keeping my eye on, and Matt has actually come around to the idea in the past day or two as well, is to go much further south than we originally planned.  The only thing that had us hesitating to still make the Atlantic crossing is the bad weather that’s been starting off the NE coast of the US, near NY and CT, and then making it’s way east out into the Atlantic.  Most of it dissipates about 500-600 miles off shore though.  The original plan was to ride the Gulf Stream north of Bermuda and then start cutting NE where the North Atlantic current runs, a route normally followed due to trade winds and currents.  What we’re now looking at doing is waiting for a window of 4-5 days of south wind off Miami and then get just north of the Bahamas and cut east.  We’d follow that for the 500 miles or so that all the bad weather has been happening above us, and then turn NE toward the Azores.  Normally people don’t do this because there are constant east winds in that area making it almost impossible to head in that direction, but with a few good days we should be able to do it and it should help us avoid all the depressions off the east coast that have been causing us to worry.

So, that’s all that we’ve been up to lately.  Sorry to freak anyone into thinking we’re certainly going to perish out there.  We’ll constantly have weather updates at our fingertips and are hoping to be able to send short texts from our satellite phone every couple of days giving our location and letting you know we’re ok.

 I don’t know when our new departure date is, but I’ll make sure to call you before we go.

 Love, Jessica 

 

 

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Topcoat Paint

There is a final coat of paint on our boat!  It may only be the pilot house and it may only be on one side, but it still feels like a huge success.  This also means that we can now put windows in on that side.  No more trashy tarps for this couple.  At least on that side.  Although we do have to wait 7 days for the paint to fully cure before we apply those windows, so maybe I shouldn’t speak too soon.

After the whole debacle of trying to find the right paint, things began to go much smoother.  Starting the process all over again, we ground the old barrier coat off and once again got all the way down to metal.  Still starting out with a coat of Petit Aluma Protect , this time we used Interlux Interprotect as our barrier coat.  This applied much easier and once it dried, we found it sanded down the way we wanted. Plus this time we correctly purchased the white (instead of gray) which not only looked much better when applied, but helped the blend in with the next coats.

To be on the safe side we applied two coats of the Interprotect and after each coat I sanded the area down to a smooth surface using 100 grit sandpaper.  I won’t lie, that part was a pain in my butt.  For some reason it would take me a full day just to do one round of sanding, but we’re both kind of being perfectionist about this whole thing.  Every time I think I’d be finished I run my fingers along the side of the boat and find that one area was still a little bumpy, and then I’d have to go back and smooth it down.  By the time I’d actually finish, I swear it felt as smooth as silk.

Aluma Protect

alumaprime on boat

Interlux Interprotect Primer

After the barrier coat was applied and smoothed, the same exact process would follow with the primer.  For this step we used Interprotect Epoxy Primekote.  Once the epoxy primer was on I would switch to a 220 grit sandpaper and also do a wet sand instead of a dry.  The sanding on this round wasn’t quite as labor intensive to my arms, this coat went on a little smoother, ans we also switched to foam rollers which I think helped to create a smoother surface to start with.  The time to sand was still the same though, because the next thing to come was the topcoat and no mistakes would be hidden under that paint.

Jessica sanding pilothouse

It was surprising just how long all of these steps took before we were even at the point where we could put on the first coat of top paint.  Between the grinding, aluminum primer, barrier coats, and primer coats (4-5 all together), and the days of sanding in between, it had already taken us just over a week to get to this point.  Then just when you think you’re ready to roll and begin with the topcoat, it begins raining ash on your boat.  No, I’m not joking.  All around the marina are sugarcane fields and lately they’ve been burning huge sections almost every day.  Sometimes we see nothing more than a big smoke cloud in the distance, and other times, like when we were trying to paint, the wind would be coming just the right direction and delivering all the airborne ash to our boat.  Grrrr.  So the painting had to be put off for another day.

sugarcane ash cloud

sugar cane ash

When we did begin that project it was time for Matt to join me again to work as this was a two person project.  Doing lots of research online and talking to other boaters in the yard, we’d found the consensus to be that the best application came from a roller, and with another person dry rolling behind.  We had originally planned on rolling and tipping, but we thought we’d give this a try and it seemed to work pretty well for us.

Using Pettit EZ-Poxy 2 part polyurethane marine paint, we spent a few minutes making sure we’d measured the 4:1 ratio correctly into the coffee tin we were using as our mixing container, and then added enough Pettit brushing thinner to get it to a point where it was dripping as soon as the mixing spoon was taken out of the mixture, instead of having a thick stream.  We’ve heard this makes for a smoother coat, although it did make us worry about how thick that coat would be.

With Matt going first, he would roll on a decent amount of paint, trying to spread it out enough so there were no runs.  As quickly as I could behind him, I would ever so lightly roll over what he had just completed to rid the surface of any air bubbles the original roller may have caused.  The first few minutes were full of cussing and deficient complaints toward each other that the other was not doing the process correctly, but after a few minutes we got in our groove and worked very well together.

We knew one coat would not be enough, so the next day I went back at it with another round of light wet sanding with 220 grit.  It seemed as if even my light sanding was taking off more than we liked, and when the second coat was applied we still weren’t satisfied with the finish.  It looked from certain angles as if we could still see the slightly darker primer coat underneath, and because we were new at it, the finish still wasn’t as nice as we were hoping for.  So once more I went back to lightly sand and we went through and applied a third topcoat the day after.

3 topcoats seemed to do the trick, and honestly, I just didn’t have it in me to go another round.  All I wanted was to get the new windows in and start on the next section of deck so we could keep things moving along.  Overall we’re happy enough with the job we did.  Again, we don’t know how much had to do with the product or the workers, but it wasn’t exactly what we’d hoped for.  From afar it looked pretty good, but up close you could see small ripples in the paint left from the rollers.  Because we started with the side of the boat that’s mostly shaded from the sun, it wasn’t until we did the next side we noticed how those ripples are more visible in sunlight.

Initially we had chosen the 2 part topcoat because it gives a harder topcoat and is less likely to chip.  The bad news with it, as we know now, it that it is a fricking pain in the ass to apply and goes on much thinner than a 1 part would have.  Also, because you need to mix the two parts together to make it….we’re less likely to go back and touch up chips until there’s a number of them that need addressing.  Oh well.  Live and learn.  I guess we’ll know for the next boat.

*Ummm…I forgot to take photos of the finished paint before we put the windows in.  And since I don’t want to ruin that surprise for you, you’ll have to wait for the next boat work post to see how it came out.  🙂

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Progress on the Head

As you had probably gathered from our previous post on beginning the paint on the pilot house, that is where a lot of our time (and money) is going at the moment.  Although I’ll catch you up to how that’s going in the next post, I’ll let you know now that the painting and sanding has basically become my job.  Solely. This is because, well, not only does Matt mostly loathe painting, but we’ve found that his hand is just a little too heavy for the sanding that’s needed there.  Every time I put him to work he somehow sands back down to bare metal in too many spots.  We can’t constantly go back and touch up these areas between the multiple barrier and primer coats that are going on, so we’ve found it best just to keep him away from it all together.

The good thing is, this has now freed him up for more projects inside the boat.  And since it was a little disheartening that they had come to a screeching halt for a few days, it felt good to now see things happening on both the inside and the outside.

This is another post where not a whole lot has been accomplished, at least visually, so I’ll only be giving a quick gist until we dive further into this area.  This area being the head, and mostly referring to what will be the composting toilet and our cabinet.  When the toilet is finished I’ll be able to give you a much better run down on how it works and what went into it, but at the moment we’re just starting with a box in which all the components will eventually be placed inside.

Matt building plywood box for toilet

The top of the box (and what will be the opening to the toilet) runs from one wall to the other, and where it ends, the bottom of our cabinet will begin.  Using 1/2″ plywood he made the front and the top of the box, while keeping the existing walls as the other sides.  Once we had the shapes of them right, it was time to make the decorative cherry toppers.  The front of the box was very easy as we used 1/4″ cherry plywood, and then cherry hardwood as an outlining trim.

The top of the box however, is made completely from cherry hardwood.  Since all the strength is placed in the plywood though, we decided to get the decorative cherry hardwood to go as far as possible by taking the 1/2″ wide pieces and sawed them in half to a width of 1/4″.  Using wood glue and lots and lots of clamps, we lined up the 2 1/2″ pieces of hardwood until they covered all of the plywood and adhered them together.  This process was followed by lots of cussing, trying not to let gaps form between the boards, but eventually we used enough pressure to get it all to line up properly.

One of the fun and kind of funky things we’re doing with the cherry hardwood in the head, is to use all of our pieces that are showing sapwood.  Originally we were discouraged to have so many pieces that had little white lines and strips running through the cherry, thinking we were going to have to cut those sections out and end up with lots of wasted wood. But then we came up with the idea to put them all together in one space where they would hopefully flow together.  We’re still not sure how it will turn out once it’s varnished and if it was a good decision on our part, although so far it’s looking pretty cool.

cherry lid to composting toilet

The cabinet should come out looking the same as our clothing cabinets in the forward salon, although thank god we were smart enough to save the piece of wood that was the original wall to use as a template. With that one template we were able to transfer it to 2 sheets of eruolite. One will be used as the inside wall to the cabinet, and the other will be the outside wall that will butt up to the counter.  The reason we’re doing 2 is because there is another odd metal frame that we found it easier to encase than to work around like in our clothing cabinets.

The outer wall was adhered to a piece of cherry plywood, so now it is 1/2″ thick and matches the rest of the exterior wood.

building cabinet in head

The door for the cabinet is made of a mixture of cherry plywood and cherry hardwood, just like our others, and sits inside a cherry hardwood frame.  Now that Matt has made so many tongue and groove pieces, it doesn’t take him very long to saw the necessary slots and piece everything together.

So while I’ve spent my past few days outside in the fresh air, and sometimes sweltering sun, Matt has been making a lot of visible progress down below and it is looking great!  I can’t wait until we have the counter installed and the new sink we just bought from Ikea. Everything is coming together so nicely and it would be fantastic if we could finish one room in this boat!

making cabinet

cabinet in head

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Throwback Thursday: I am FREAKING Out Here People!

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

Leaving the Bahamas for Florida, we had a swift overnight sail where I pondered my feelings about sailing at night, and we arrived in Miami just as the sun was coming up. From then on out, everything was all about getting ready for our Atlantic crossing and our upcoming sail from Miami to the Azores.  I didn’t have too much time to wonder what 30 nights of sea might do to my state of mind and we prepped the boat and I brushed up on my sailing skills by breaking out a few books and manuals again.

Even though we knew we still had a few weeks before departing, we’d been keeping a close eye on the weather out on the Atlantic just to see if we could find any patterns emerging.  Turns out there were, and it was nothing but front upon front, producing some nasty weather in the North Atlantic that wasn’t making us feel to good about our decision to soon sail across it.

Take a read as I let my fears get the best of me and I began to question our decision to go at all.

*The funny thing is, now that I take a look back on these weather reports, even the ones I thought were bad two years ago, I now think to myself..”Well that seems like a pretty decent forecast”.  How a few thousand miles and a number of storms will change your perspective.*

You can find the original post here.

Tuesday May 20, 2014

waves b&w

Do you know what I was doing this morning at 4 am? I was lying awake in bed, thinking off all the terrible things that could happen to us as we cross the Atlantic in a few weeks. Here’s another fun question for you. Do you know how many boats were abandoned just last week while taking the same route that we are? Two!! That’s right. Two boats with a larger number and more experienced crew than the two of us had to leave their boats behind while making the same trip we’re about to do. I am FREAKING out here people! Granted, both of those boats appeared to be passing through a very nasty low pressure system a few hundred miles east of the United States around the 40th degree latitude, but all I could think of through the whole night was ‘That could be us!’. One of the two crews was picked up by the USCG, but the other crew, as I currently write this, are still missing; their boat believed to be abandoned in the Northern Atlantic.* Pardon my French, but that is some scary shit!

For the weeks and month leading up to our departure from Miami and across the Atlantic to the Azores and then through Gibraltar, I’ve tried to mentally prepare myself as much as possible. Prepare for the monotony of being at sea for 30 straight days, and prepare for the onset of at least 2-3 fairly rough storms during our crossing. In my mind, and according to most of the books I’m reading, the worst part of these storms usually pass you in a few hours and all you’re left with after is maybe a day or two of overcast skies with some rain and the drudgery of waiting for the seas to settle back to their original state. The weather systems that we’ve been tracking for the past few weeks though to get a feel for what’s going on out on these waters, is showing a completely different story.

I will admit to you now that we have never once listened to a Chris Parker forecast. We have taken his information while cruising with friends that do get up at the ungodly hour of 6 am to listen, but personally we’ve always been fans of Passage Weather and have used that to prepare for any passage we’ve taken. This does require internet, of which we will not have once we leave on our crossing, but at that point we’ll be relying on downloading forecasts from our SSB twice daily, something that should give us a four day outlook that will be very similar to what we’ve always viewed on Passage Weather. While keeping an eye on it at the moment though, these are the kind of images that we keep seeing pop up.

front over Bermuda

front over Azores

You can see where I’ve labeled Bermuda and the Azores, and our approximate intended route (terrible job with the paint brush, I know). You can also see all that yellow and orange showing up in areas close to where we’ll be, and that’s very, very bad. If you follow the wind indicator at the bottom, you’ll see that yellow represents winds of 30-35 knots, and orange represents 35-40 knots. That would be bad enough on it’s own, but I may have mentioned to you before of our learning of reading Passage Weather, and have pretty much found it to be true. Always expect 5-10 knots higher than it shows. If it’s reading 30-35 knots, expect 35-45. If it’s reading 35-40, well, you’re S.O.L. It’s why we never go anywhere when a forecast is reading over 20 knots. Even though we always travel in weather that shows 15-20, we experience at least 30 knots sometime during the trip. Every.Single.Time.

So you can imagine why these images are getting under my skin. They never end. There might be two days of calm in those areas before another front develops. This is not normal, not for this late in the season, and it has me terrified that nothing will change before our intended June 1st departure date.

So as I laid there wide awake, waiting for the sun to come up, my mind was filled with alternative routes. I was thinking to myself, ‘You know, since we were about to take on a 30 day passage anyway, we could make it to Panama in 10-12. And you know who’s in Panama? Brian and Stephanie on Rode Trip. That would be so fun!!’. I actually lulled myself to sleep with false promises that we would stick to the Caribbean where we would never be more than 200 miles from some form of land.

Reality did set in this morning though as I realized the light of a few very important things. 1. We don’t have to go if everything is showing the same in a week and a half. Have those fronts not showed any sign of leaving, we will wait for them to do so. Or, hightail it to Panama. 2. Based on years and years of data, they should be changing any day now. The Bermuda/Azores high should be settling in, and things should start to look much calmer on those waters. And 3. Downloading a 96 hour forecast twice a day should keep us on top of any fronts that could arise. If we see anything that looks like it’s coming up, we have no problem backtracking or adding extra miles to avoid it. We are going to be very cautious cruisers on this trip, and that is fine by me. I would much rather arrive even a week later than anticipated if it means we’re not surfing down 20 ft waves in 40 knot winds. Ever.

preferred weather

Now this is the kind of weather I’m looking for!

 

* On Friday May 23rd, the USCG found the hull of this second boat, the Cheeki Rafiki, but with no sign of the crew.  The life raft was still on board and never inflated.

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Adventures of Ani

Ani riding bike

We absolutely love when we’re able to get a rare chance to meet up with old cruising friends again.  Something about reminiscing of days past when, not only were we cruising, but when we were still total newbies and figuring it all out.  We have a small and tight knit group of cruisers that we were lucky enough to call our close friends our first season out back in 2013, and on this evening we were lucky enough to meet up with two of them again.  Only…their crew had now grown to three.

Back when we had just gotten into the Bahamas and started exploring them in March ’13, we made a stop at Long Island and partook in some of the Easter festivities, including a fish fry being hosted by the water on Good Friday.  We were still clinging to our friends Brian and Stephanie that we had just been reunited with a few days earlier, but lo and behold, there appeared to be other young cruisers at this get together.  Shyly walking up and introducing ourselves, we made quick friends with this new couple, Ren and Ashley.  Through a few drinks we found out that they frequently visited Long Island for it’s proximity to Dean’s Blue Hole, one of the deepest in the world.  This happened to be very important to them as they are both freedivers and also make their living by not only competing professionally, but giving lessons through their company Evolve Freedving.

Through the next few months we spent a lot of time with Ren and Ashley, traveling the Bahamas and even sailing over to Jamaica together where we parted ways, for who knew how long.  Turns out three years was how long it took to bring us all back together as they were just outside Indiantown with their new boat, a trimaran named Jade.  Going out to see them as well as their new boat, we were also able to meet the newest crew member, Ani.  A bright a cheery two year old that was just a bump in Ashley’s stomach the last time we were all together.

It was a great reunion as we pulled into the marina and saw our long lost friends.  There was so much to catch up on and a new boat to take a tour of.  Having done a pretty good refit themselves, they knew exactly how we’re feeling right now and gave lots of encouragement as well as tips.

Then it was time to wake Ani up from her afternoon nap so she could meet mommy and daddy’s old friends.

Ren and Jamal

Sandpiper Marina

Matt on s/v Jade

Ani Chapman

When she came out to be introduced to us she was still a little tired and understandably shy.  As the adults sat around with wine and snacks though, she wandered the boat and became more talkative and bubbly as the evening went on.  Instead of hiding her face in Ashely’s lap she was now running around the deck and showing off her toys including a tricycle that she desperately wanted to take for a ride.

With Ren rustling up Ani and her bike, I grabbed my camera and followed along. Having gotten her very own camera for Christmas, she knew what to do and was more than happy to take my Sony NEX 5T off my hands ans snap a few shots with it.  I tried to take a moment to explain the auto focus properties to her, but as soon as she found the shutter button she was off and snapping.

For a two year old she was doing a very good job of keeping both her fingers out of view of the lens and cropping the photos she wanted to take.  Here’s a few examples of her work.

Ani's photo of Jessica

Ani's photo of Ren

Then it was time to get down to the real business of riding her bike around the parking lot.  With white blonde curls poking out of her helmet it was all I could do not to scoop her up and make a run for the van so I could keep this cuteness with me all the time.  I refrained though.  I don’t think I’d be very hard to track down and I am in no way equipped to handle a screaming two year old when it comes to bed time.  The nightmares from my babysitting days still haunt me.

Ani riding a bicycle  As the sun was already setting on us, it was a short bike ride and, after a few tears, we were back at the boat once more.  From then on Ani occupied herself with dolls and books and we were able to squeeze in a little more adult time with Ren and Ashley and their friends Tania and Jamal that were in the same marina (whom we’d also briefly met in Indiantown).

Before we knew it, dinner time had come and gone, Jade was filling up with new overnight guests, and Matt and I were far behind schedule to make stops at Harbor Freight and Home Depot before they closed.  Sadly we had to say goodbye as well as plan and wish for the next times our paths may cross again.  Our visit with the Jade crew was short, but it also warmed our hearts to see old friends as well as get the encouragement to keep pushing on and the motivation to get out sailing again.

With so many amazing memories with these two in our past, we can’t wait to make new ones in the future, with Ani running around and keeping us entertained as well.  It wouldn’t hurt if we could go back to starry nights and sandy beaches in the tropics instead of passing by each other in the States, so we’ll have to hurry our butts up so we can join them during parts of their Caribbean travels.

Ani swinging from companionway

 Make sure to follow more adventures of Ani through Instagram @evolvefreediving.

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Throwback Thursday: The Still Lost City of Atlantis

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

It’s funny what a year can do to change one’s perspective.  The first time we arrived in the Bahamas in 2013 we had been a little underwhelmed by the islands that awaited us.  Expecting that every time we stepped off our dinghy we’d be greeted with the picture perfect resorts that you always find in ads, we quickly found out that the cruisers versions was filled with lots of dusty roads, low lying shrubs, and run down buildings.

Sure those iconic areas existed, if you wanted to pay for them, but that was not in our budget and we continued to lament, for awhile, that our life did not always resemble the cover of a Conde Nast magazine. Here’s what we learned in the one year we were away from the Bahamas though.  The inhabitants of these islands are some of the warmest and most welcoming that you’ll ever meet in your life.  Just because we weren’t strolling through perfectly manicured grounds with towering palm trees doesn’t mean that these islands can’t hold a certain kind of charm.  And most importantly, these waters really are the best you’ll come across in the western hemisphere.

So it was with a bit of sadness on our second visit through the Bahamas that we had to rush through them due to a schedule and that a good chunk of that time was spent in bad weather. After our few great days in Warderick Wells we were feeling the sand running out of our timer before our Atlantic crossing and realized we needed to get to Florida asap.  Making one long jump we left from there and sailed 36 hours directly to Bimini to situate ourselves for a Gulf crossing as soon as the weather permitted.

It may have seemed at the time like the weather was working against us once more by keeping us in Bimini a few days longer than we intended, but it’s one of the best things that could have happened.  One last chance to get as much as we could from a country we didn’t realize how much we loved until we made it back a second time.  With those few days we watched the waves roll in to Radio Beach and even had a chance to snorkel the famous Bimini road.  Just a few more memories to last a lifetime and make us remember what a special place we had originally cast aside.

You can find the original post here.

Thursday May 8, 2014, 

NW Bimini

Everyone has heard of the lost city of Atlantis, right? A highly developed society constructed  in script by Plato that supposedly sunk into the sea? Did you know that right here in Bimini Bahamas, they claim to have remains of this lost city? Or at least, the road leading to it. That’s right, situated on the NW side of the island just off Paradise Point is the Bimini road, an underwater rock formation that is so precisely laid out that it is claimed to have once been a man made road or wall, and is now currently sitting 15 or so feet below the water’s surface.

When we were here just a month ago I had desperately wanted to dive (snorkel) this site, but it was just waaaay more than our dinghy would have been able to handle, about five miles each way from where we had been sitting all the way up the channel inside. Since we had no reason to rush ourselves in this morning, in fact, we needed to wait for an incoming tide, we decided to time our departure from the anchorage in the afternoon which meant we had the whole morning to find and explore the Bimini Road. After our morning coffee to fully wake ourselves up, we checked the spot where I had plugged the coordinates in our chart plotter and with the destined spot now in mind, we hopped in the dinghy and sped off at all our little Mercury 3.3 could give us. Our guidebook along with the coordinates, also stated there was a buoy marking the site and you could not miss it. Only…we could. As far as we could see on the horizon, the only buoys that seemed to be littering our view were bright orange ones that were marking off construction zones for a new pier that is being installed.

At this point we realized that we should have put the coordinates into our little hand held GPS and brought it with us, but now, just like in that scene at the beginning of Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, although we could still see the boat, we deemed that we’d ‘Already gone too far’ and didn’t want to head back to get it. The next best option was to have Matt stick his goggled head underwater each time we came up to a dark patch in the water only to find out that each of these dark patches was a bed of eel grass. There were a few rocks out in the water that were supposed to be marking the start, or end, or side, or some relation to the road, so we kept focusing on that area to no avail. Then we realized what we’d really been wanting to do all along. Catch some dinner at the end of our pole spear.

Four weeks in the Bahamas so far and we’d never been out for one spear fishing adventure. This was going to be our last opportunity, and if we couldn’t swim the underwater road to a mythological city, well damn it, we still weren’t going to go home empty handed. Based on the kind of below the surface life we found back at Emerald Rock in Warderick Wells, the rocks we had been skirting around all morning seemed like the perfect place to gouge things. Dropping the anchor to the dinghy in a sandy spot to the side we fell back in the water and were instantly greeted with bright purple fan coral and a small shelf of rock hiding glass eyed snappers below. I thought Matt would have to work at his rusty skills for awhile since it’s been over a year since he’s last stabbed anything, but on his third attempt he was already swimming to the surface with a punctured fish on his spear. Score! That was half a dinner right there, we just needed a few more to fill our plates up for a few nights.

Rounding all angles of the large rock now we first scanned to see what was available to eat before just shooting anything that moved. There were a lot of fish we hadn’t seen in quite some time, and a few new ones we couldn’t identify as well. Continuing around the edges we’d kick down the 5-6 feet below us to look in all nooks and I kept a close eye out for any lobster. We didn’t see any of those, but did come across something much much better. At the east side of the rock was a large tunnel that wasn’t visible above water, but once you got down a few feet you could see that it let from one side of the rock right out to the other. Except, you couldn’t quite see it clearly due to all the fish swaying back and forth in there with the tide. It was literally a wall of fish with a few specs of light filtering through here and there. Matt was completely ready to go in and do a little exploring, but my nerves got the best of me and made it apparent to him I would be waiting outside. He decided to forgo it if I wasn’t going along, we wanted to make sure to always have an eye on each other, and took the long way around instead.

Getting from one side to the other was a little tricky due to the shallowness of the coral and rock in some areas. We had to swim over rugged edges of rock that were mere inches away from our belly, all the while fighting against the crests of waves that were building up due to the shallow waters. Doing a circumnavigation of the rock we ended up on the south side for the best fishing, where a group of yellow fish that we can’t remember their name but ate all the time last year were hanging out. 15 more minutes in that spot and we had two more fish in the dinghy, ready to make their way to the dinner table that night.

Even though that spot had been treating us well we settled on a change of scenery and snorkeled past the dinghy to the next rock where we didn’t see many good fishing opportunities, but we did see parts of something that looked suspiciously like an underwater rock formation. The beginning of the Bimini Road perhaps? Hmmmm….I’m going to say yes just so I can say that we actually did snorkel it. Since we had lost sight of the rest of the road and had also lost sight of any good fishing, we moved ourselves and the dinghy to the northernmost rock of the formation. Wow. All I can say about this rock is wow. Best snorkeling we’ve seen in the Bahamas yet this year. Not only was there colorful coral abound, but there were underwater bays full of hundreds and hundreds of fish! We could have had enough fish to last us a year by staying in this spot had two unfavorable things not happened. The first is that the elastic band on our pull spear kept breaking. Matt was able to fix it two times, luckily since one of those time brought in another fish for us to eat, but after that it was deemed unusable for the rest of the day. The other thing was the biggest barracuda I’ve ever seen, and it would not leave our eyesight. It’s one thing just to swim with them, but when we have a bloody fish between us and them, well, let’s just say we don’t want to find out in person how they handle that.

I can’t say we were too disappointed with our day though. Great snorkeling, great fish gazing and spearing, and swimming the Bimini Road (yup, I’m calling it!). Once we had the fish on deck and cleaned into edible fillets, still need to hone that skill a little, we upped anchor to make our way out of the swells that were building and into the safety of the harbor where we were greeted with a calm anchorage and internet access. For dinner we enjoyed a breathtaking sunset and fish tacos where I decided that it was a special enough occasion to pull out my second to last Red Stripe (yup, part of the 24 pk I bought in Jamaica last May). Our time in the Bahamas now officially feels as if it’s at an end, we’ll probably be leaving on the next available weather window although it’s probably still a few days out. I can’t believe how fast it’s already gone by. Last time we were counting down the days until we could get out, now we’re savoring each day that we still have here.

Bimini sunset

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One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

I wish this post was coming to you with the good news that the new ports have been placed in the port side of the boat, but unfortunately we are back to square one.  Minus the silicone and gunk removal that is.  Or filling all the bolt holes.  But we are back to square one as far as priming and painting goes.

Everything had gone according to plan for the first few days. Directly around the now open ports we placed a coat of Petit Aluma Protect, a 2 part strontium chromate epoxy primer. This is to give a proper barrier coat over bare aluminum, and comes in an awesome almost neon yellow color.  Although we started by coating only the area surrounding the ports that we had ground down to expose and fill the extra bolt holes, as soon as that was on and protecting that bare aluminum, Matt moved on to grind off all the remaining paint from that side of the pilot house and coachroof before the entire side was coated in the Aluma Protect. So far, so good.

The next stage was to place a barrier coat on, and what we had chosen to use was Petit Protect Epoxy Primer.  The first thing that went wrong with this barrier coat is that we had meant to get it in white, but when it came in the mail we had found that we’d accidentally ordered gray.  Turns out when we placed the order button online we had been paying more attention to the sale price instead of the color. Even though the next primer coat and final coat would be white, we weren’t sure how well it would cover the darker color underneath.  Not one to throw away a good deal though, we thought we’d give it a shot. What we hadn’t expected, but found out once we’d applied the two necessary coats, is that this is a high build primer and did not want to sand well for us.

If it was a barrier coat to the bottom, no big deal.  We’d just be apply the top coat after and not worry about any bumps or ripples caused by the roller.  The topside though…yeah, a smooth surface is pretty important to us.  As soon as we’d take any kind of sandpaper to it, trying out both 100 and 220 grit, it would automatically clump the paper and we’d be left with either a bare spot where it all came off or a still semi rough surface. Thinking that maybe the primer would hide some of these mistakes and we could then smooth that down to a dimple free surface we added the next step of Petit one part white primer, the same as what we used in the head.

As you’ve probably guessed by the title of this post, it hasn’t worked out for us.  After a bit of discussion and deliberation, we talked about continuing with the products we had, doing multiple rounds of priming and sanding until we had the smooth surface we desired.  Or, we could start fresh with different products.  So that is what we have decided to do.  All of our hard work over the past 5 days is now getting washed down the drain as we grind the side back down to bare metal and start from scratch.

We’ll be keeping the Petit Aluma Protect as our barrier for the aluminum, although after that point we’re switching to Interlux InterProtect for the barrier and primer coats. A little more time and money out the window, but what can you do? Being such a major focus of the boat we can’t do a slapdash job on the paint and hope no one we’ll notice.  We certainly would.

We’re sad the line of Petit products didn’t work out for us although we’re still using them for the top coat), and it’s possible the fault could have been all our own. Maybe I just have terrible ratio and mixing skills.  We’ll never know. The new products should be arriving any day though,  and we hope this time around everything goes much smoother.  Both literally and figuratively.

removing paint around ports

zinc chromate primer

Jessica mixing primer

ghost ship Daze Off

zinc primer around ports

barrier coat around ports

 

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Throwback Thursday: Exuma Land & Sea Park

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

Once all the fun of the Family Regatta was finished in George Town, it was already time for us to begin our trek, slowly, back to the US.  We’d come down as far as we had time for, and with an Atlantic crossing still pending this season, we had to set our sights on getting back to Florida.  It wasn’t a race to the finish line though, and our plan was to hit a few islands of the Exumas we had missed the previous year.

Just a short jump up from George Town was Lee Stocking Island.  Known for it’s great reefs full of fish, we were extremely excited to get to an area where we could don our snorkeling gear to actually glimpse a few fish, but the few days we were there had us rained out, and even pinned against a lee shore with 42 knot winds for one afternoon.

Before you can begin to feel too bad for us though, we just had to sneak in one more visit to Staniel Cay and Big Majors.  I mean, how can you pass by attractions like the Thunderball Grotto and swimming pigs and not make a stop there?  We also had the weather on our side once more and spent a beautiful few days there before it was once again time to move ourselves a little further north.

Our final stop in the Exumas was Warderick Wells, one place we had sadly skipped the year before and knew we couldn’t do a second time.

You can find the original post here.

Monday May 5, 2014

Exuma Land & Sea Park

Keeping as true to my Exuma wish list as possible, since we’ve now already skipped the sunken sculptures at Musha Cay, when Matt asked what our next stop was, I told him ‘Warderick Wells!’.  This is one spot I’m actually very sad we missed out on last year, and as soon as we pulled into the anchorage and then brought the dinghy out by the park headquarters, Matt was as well.  This place is b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l!  As well it should be, too.  That’s because Warderick Wells is part of the Exuma Land & Sea Park, a 22 mile stretch of sea and cays that are protected under the Bahamas National Trust where they like to promote the saying ‘Take only photos, leave only footprints’.  Meaning you take no fish, plants, flowers, ect, and do not leave any trash behind.  It’s a great concept and the island has definitely benefited from it.

Warderick Wells hosts two big claims to fame among the cays that make up the Land & Sea park.  Not only does it contain the park headquarters (ok, that’s not actually one of them), but it has a stunning horseshoe anchorage filled with mooring balls to preserve the seabed below, and just a few hundred meters away from this is Boo Boo Hill.  The lore of Boo Boo Hill is that many years ago, a schooner sank off the shores of Warderick Wells on a stormy night and that every soul on board perished.  They still like to haunt the area though, and legend has it that if you climb the crest of the hill at the bloom of a full moon, you can hear the voices of the lost souls singing hymns.  We weren’t up for night hiking, and I don’t think we were even anywhere near a full moon, but a hike up the hill sounded fun enough.

anchorage at Warderick Wells

The term hike should be used very lightly though, and after a few minute uphill climb in which I never even had the chance to become short of breath, we were at the top.  The views up there were spectacular, but that wasn’t the only thing we had come to behold.  For you see, there’s been a tradition going on here between cruisers for quite a few years now.  Keeping with the theme of the natural reserve, cruisers have been leaving their mark at the top of this hill in the form of driftwood with their boat name painted or burned into it.  We didn’t have anything to leave as a memento, nor were we planning to, but the stunning views we were afforded at the top was well worth the trip in.  Through the mass of driftwood we tried to search out friends that we knew left pieces behind, but the crowd of 2014 was exceedingly strong and we would have had to do a lot of digging to unearth anything older.

Boo Boo Hill, Warderick Wells

Jessica on top of Boo Boo Hill

looking down Boo Boo Hill

 There was one sight we spotted at the top of Boo Boo Hill that we weren’t expecting too see but extremely happy we did.  Sitting on a mooring ball was s/v Laho, belonging to our friends Kim and Jereme that we hadn’t seen or talked to after spending a night out in the Bahama Banks, something we still hope they don’t hold against us.  (‘Oh, this uncontrollably rolly anchorage out in the middle of nowhere?  We’ll be fiiiiine.’)  Getting back in the dinghy we planned on doing a ride-by stalking to see if anyone was aboard, whilst trying to pretend that we were just checking out the mooring field.  Coming up on Laho we saw that in was in fact their boat, but it didn’t appear as if anyone was home.  There were however a group of dinghies gathered in the center of the anchorage where low tide had provided a couple of lavish sandbars that would be the perfect spot to enjoy a sundowner, and we cut the dinghy over to see if they were among the crowd.

The crowd however, completely dispersed as we came up on it, and we think we saw Kim, Jereme, and Oliver riding off in a direction back toward their boat.  Not wanting to actually stalk them by immediately turning ourselves back around, we landed the dinghy at the sandbar and walked around for a few minutes before trying Laho a second time, where we were eagerly invited aboard and offered cold beers while the four of us filled each other in on lost time.  With both boats being stuck for at least one more day due to a front coming through, I made sure that Kim didn’t mind me stopping back over once more so that I could return her favorite hair clip that I borrowed during our casino night and forgot to give back in the excitement of Jereme falling out of our dinghy on the way back to the boats.  That was just a cover story though.  What I was really after was Photoshop lessons so my photos can begin to look anywhere near as amazing as hers.*

Matt on sand bar

Warderick Wells at low tide

 The promised storm did come howling through in the middle of the night, waking us up at 2 am while 35-40 knot winds straightened out all our anchor chain and left Matt in the cabin to sleep in case any quick action needed to be taken.  None did, and 30 minutes later everything calmed back down to the peaceful 15-20 knots we’re used to.  What the storm did leave in it’s wake though were larger than normal seas on the Banks side of the island, the one we were exposed to.  We have not been doing well so far this year in trying to hide ourselves from west winds, and the result has been us rocking back and forth, familiar to those dreaded swells we experienced back in Grand Cayman.  This now being our second day of experiencing them, I could not handle it anymore.  Calling up Kim on the VHF, I begged her to let me take refuge on Laho for a few hours. I think the phrase ‘I’m going to burn this boat down’ was starting to make it’s way back into my vocabulary.

Knowing that I couldn’t show up empty handed again, I made a quick batch of Johnny Bread after following a recipe on my friend Brittany’s blog.  For being a first time attempt I think it came out pretty good, albeit a little more burned than I would have liked, but coupled with a side of strawberry jam I figured it was a very presentable gift for my gracious host, who in turn, handed me a cold Bud Light upon my arrival.  You gotta love how these trades work on the high seas.  Plus all the valuable lessons and tools I picked up from Kim to use on my CS6, well, let’s just say I think I ended up in the black for the day.  (Or week)

storms over Warderick Wells

storms over Warderick Wells

Georgie watching fish

Today we got off the boat to do a little more exploration of the island in the form of snorkeling and hiking.  There are a few patches of coral marked off in the anchorage we’re in at Emerald Bay, and taking the dinghy over we dropped hook in sandy patches next to the reefs and devoured every colorful fish and piece of brain coral we could take in.  I’ll be honest, it didn’t compare to the diving we did in the Ragged Islands last year, but it was our first chance to see anything underwater this year and we were soaking it all in.  Once we had finished on the three pieced of coral in the bay we took to diving Emerald Rock itself and found much more life there.  Matt spent tons of time in the water sneaking into every little crevice he could find, but the 5 ft barracuda that kept eyeing me, even though I knew it wouldn’t do anything, sent be back to the dinghy to soak up some sun and get warm instead.

After lunch we took to the shore and let Georgie join us.  We’ve decided that even though she loathes dinghy rides, we want to get her off the boat when possible so she can add a few new sights and smells to her world.  As soon as she was dropped off on the beach she began rolling around in the sand and chasing Matt as he ran near the waters edge.  In short, she was acting kind of like…a dog.  We were even able to get her to walk on her leash and we hiked up one of the trails to some ruins, and as long as one of us was in the front leading the way, she was completely content to follow.  It wasn’t until we were back on the beach that we remembered all the signs posted asking you not to bring your pets on the trails and to keep them on the beaches.  Ohhh, right.  She is a ‘pet’.  I forgot.  Cats walking on leashes tend to do that to you.

beach at Warderick Wells

Davis Plantation Trail marker

Matt walking Georgie

Jessica at Warderick Wells

We could have spent all afternoon resting on that beach, and Matt had even picked out a little cove where he would love to anchor Serendipity for a month straight if we had the time, but true to the Bahamian nature we’ve been experiencing so far this year, the sun was quickly overtaken by approaching clouds and sending us running back to the boat to close all the hatches before something really nasty blew in.  With two and a half days here though, I think we still managed to get the full experience in. Verdict of Warderick Wells:  Exquisitely beautiful and well worth the stop.

5.4.14 (14)

 *Now that we’re back in Miami we are hunting down deals for me to buy a new DSLR body so I can stop shooting with my Cyber Shot.  I am so over the moon about the prospect of being able to shoot great photos again.  Thank you mom for the gift, you’re the best!!

 

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